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Politics and Government

Turnout remains low as Election Day arrives in Colorado. Here’s what you need to know to vote.

Your ballot must be in the possession of your county’s clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted

Pat Moroney, a software engineer, fills out his ballot as he votes early at the Denver Election Commission on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012. (AP Photo/ Ed Andrieski)
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Odd-year elections in Colorado traditionally have low turnout, but voter participation this year has been even more anemic than usual despite fiery school board contests and consequential ballot initiatives.

As of Sunday night, 755,631 ballots had been cast, representing just 19% of active registered voters in the state.

More Democrats and Republicans had cast ballots by the Sunday before Election Day in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 elections, according to data from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. The one bright spot is unaffiliated voters, who make up the largest percentage of registered voters in Colorado and are outpacing their ballot returns from the three previous odd-year elections. 

Turnout ramped up on Monday. By 11:30 p.m., 953,196 ballots had been cast, representing 25% of active registered voters. Returns are still lagging what they were at this point in the election in 2019.

There’s still time to turn things around — and in many recent odd-year elections turnout has shot up just before Election Day. In fact, the number of ballots returned in the final two days of the election ranged from 40% of the contest’s total in both 2015 and 2017 to nearly 50% two years ago.

Here’s what you need to know to participate in the 2021 election Tuesday:


When is the deadline to vote?

Your ballot must be in the possession of your county’s clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. 

It is too late to mail your ballot. You must turn it in at a drop box by 7 p.m. Tuesday if you want it to be counted. 

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

If you want to vote in person, you can do so. You must be in line to vote by 7 p.m. to cast your ballot. 

Remember: Colorado has same-day voter registration. 

What’s on the ballot?

Voters are picking local school board members in hotly contested races and deciding whether to approve a host of local ballot measures. 

There are also three statewide questions on the ballot:

Do I have to vote on everything on my ballot?

No. 

You can pick and choose which races you’d like to vote on. Leaving a contest blank will not invalidate your ballot.

Can I track my ballot?

Yes. 

Your best resource is govotecolorado.gov, where you can log in to check your voter registration status, review a sample ballot and learn whether your ballot has been mailed.

To track your ballot through the counting process, sign up for the state BallotTrax system. Voters can go to colorado.ballottrax.net to sign up for the service.

Denver residents interested in keeping tabs on their ballots must sign up for a different system at ballottrace.org/home

Where can I find results?

Results are typically released starting around 7:30 p.m.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s website is a great resource for tracking election results. Your local county clerk’s website also likely has results. 

The Colorado Sun will be writing about the three statewide ballot measures, as well as a host of school board races. Check our website for the latest updates.

Colorado Sun correspondent Sandra Fish contributed to this report.